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@GeneralNuisance gets right to the point: music theory is a set of tools to describe music. But, would suggest a different emphasis on how to apply the theory in practice.

I say first analyze the music you play and listen to, and become skilled at identifying musical elements. Analyze the connection between the musical elements you can identify and the expressive effect they have. Be cautious about using theory to support the creative process to avoid theory becoming 'the rules of music.' The worst would be misapplying the theory you learn using isolated theory concepts in the wrong context. You might find something innovative... but you might also botch things up. I think it's better to take inspiration from your analysis of real music.

Also, don't mistake theory books for performance method or songwriting books. Theory books will tell what to name things. Theory will also explain why things work. Ex: the resolution of dissonance/tension gives a forward impulse to music. Method books will show you how to do things. Ex: play the chord root on the first beat of a bar in a walking bass line. Theory doesn't tell me to do that. A method book describing the style tells me. But, notice how we can only get the sentence in the method, by understanding the theory terms: chord, root, first beat, and bar.

Theory can illuminate the why? in the walking bass example. The root is played on beat one, because it most clearly identifies the chord and helps reinforce the meter. An approach tone is often played on beat 4 (4/4 meter) because a non-chord tone resolving by step to beat one of the next bar give the music forward momentum. Now that we have some musical context we can try to get creative with the application of theory: if the root on beat one is stable, maybe a rest on beat one and hitting the root on beat two an agitated or crazy feel. Try it and then analyze the result.

@GeneralNuisance gets right to the point: music theory is a set of tools to describe music. But, would suggest a different emphasis on how to apply the theory in practice.

I say first analyze the music you play and listen to, and become skilled at identifying musical elements. Analyze the connection between the musical elements you can identify and the expressive effect they have. Be cautious about using theory to support the creative process to avoid theory becoming 'the rules of music.' The worst would be misapplying the theory you learn using isolated theory concepts in the wrong context. You might find something innovative... but you might also botch things up. I think it's better to take inspiration from your analysis of real music.

Also, don't mistake theory books for performance method or songwriting books. Theory books will tell what to name things. Theory will also explain why things work. Ex: the resolution of dissonance/tension gives a forward impulse to music. Method books will show you how to do things. Ex: play the chord root on the first beat of a bar in a walking bass line. Theory doesn't tell me to do that. A method book describing the style tells me. But, notice how we can only get the sentence in the method, by understanding the theory terms: chord, root, first beat, and bar.

@GeneralNuisance gets right to the point: music theory is a set of tools to describe music. But, would suggest a different emphasis on how to apply the theory in practice.

I say first analyze the music you play and listen to, and become skilled at identifying musical elements. Analyze the connection between the musical elements you can identify and the expressive effect they have. Be cautious about using theory to support the creative process to avoid theory becoming 'the rules of music.' The worst would be misapplying the theory you learn using isolated theory concepts in the wrong context. You might find something innovative... but you might also botch things up. I think it's better to take inspiration from your analysis of real music.

Also, don't mistake theory books for performance method or songwriting books. Theory books will tell what to name things. Theory will also explain why things work. Ex: the resolution of dissonance/tension gives a forward impulse to music. Method books will show you how to do things. Ex: play the chord root on the first beat of a bar in a walking bass line. Theory doesn't tell me to do that. A method book describing the style tells me. But, notice how we can only get the sentence in the method, by understanding the theory terms: chord, root, first beat, and bar.

Theory can illuminate the why? in the walking bass example. The root is played on beat one, because it most clearly identifies the chord and helps reinforce the meter. An approach tone is often played on beat 4 (4/4 meter) because a non-chord tone resolving by step to beat one of the next bar give the music forward momentum. Now that we have some musical context we can try to get creative with the application of theory: if the root on beat one is stable, maybe a rest on beat one and hitting the root on beat two an agitated or crazy feel. Try it and then analyze the result.

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@GeneralNuisance gets right to the point: music theory is a set of tools to describe music. But, would suggest a different emphasis on how to apply the theory in practice.

I say first analyze the music you play and listen to, and become skilled at identifying musical elements. Analyze the connection between the musical elements you can identify and the expressive effect they have. Be cautious about using theory to support the creative process to avoid theory becoming 'the rules of music.' The worst would be misapplying the theory you learn using isolated theory concepts in the wrong context. You might find something innovative... but you might also botch things up. I think it's better to take inspiration from your analysis of real music.

Also, don't mistake theory books for performance method or songwriting books. Theory books will tell what to name things. Theory will also explain why things work. Ex: the resolution of dissonance/tension gives a forward impulse to music. Method books will show you how to do things. Ex: play the chord root on the first beat of a bar in a walking bass line. Theory doesn't tell me to do that. A method book describing the style tells me. But, notice how we can only get the sentence in the method, by understanding the theory terms: chord, root, first beat, and bar.